Get Smart about Shopping POS Software

By John Moscrip, COO and Owner, Duke's Chowder House | September 21, 2010

Duke's Chowder House opened in 1977 with the hope of delivering only the best in chowder and other seafood staples to Seattle, Wash. Now in 2010, Duke's is doing just that. The foundation of their success was, and still is, based on these three underlying principles:

  • Reliability and consistency breed confidence.
  • What you do today affects your business in the years to come
  • Listen to the people

Because these three principles are such a big part of Duke's success, it doesn't come as a surprise that they also apply to the company's technology system requirements, especially when it comes to the point of sale (POS) system. Here is how restaurant operators can apply these same principles to their own POS selection processes in order to get the most out of their system:

Reliability and consistency breed confidence
POS software needs to be robust and reliable. Restaurant managers, Duke's or otherwise, need to focus all of their efforts on making sure that all things run smoothly both on and off the floor. They can ill-afford a few POS hiccups, or worse, a complete system breakdown. The confidence that your POS software will work without interruption is necessary in order to allow your staff to focus on their jobs. Hardware can fail, power can be lost, and other glitches that can simply not be avoided will occur. To mitigate your company's chances for system failure, operators should be sure to inquire about POS backup frequencies, data storage and recovery features before making a decision. That is the strategy that Duke's followed, and today all data from each of Duke's six locations is backed up on one central server at the end of every day. Should one or multiple locations permanently lose data for any reason, (hardware failure, lightning, etc) a perfectly up-to-date back up of that system can be loaded remotely within minutes. This is an automated process and requires no effort whatsoever from Duke's or their staff.
 
What you do today affects your business in the years to come
Operators should always make decisions with a strong focus on their long-term goals. Duke's Chowder House made sure to commit to POS software that was scalable. The company started out with one location in Seattle, and today there are six spread throughout the city and its surrounding areas. For Duke's, growth was always the plan, but the when, where and how much were yet to be determined. Therefore it was important for Duke's, as it should be for any company, to consider your expansion plans when making a POS selection. Rather than plan simply for initial requirements, take the following into consideration:
  • Would it be easy to add additional terminals in existing locations?
  • Will you be able to open more locations without affecting current ones?
  • Can multiple stores be centrally linked to your company's headquarters?
  • Can you add new features and functions while avoiding costly and lengthy programming?

The answers to these questions should all be a resounding 'yes.' Duke's has grown to be a Seattle institution, and not only did their choice of POS software not hinder this, it made it all that much easier. It is paramount to consider expansion, in terms of number of locations or just the needs of one restaurant when deciding on POS software. Choose one that is modular and scalable that can grow with your restaurant.

Listen to the people
When Duke's Chowder House knew that they needed to switch from cash registers to a much more efficient POS software system, they took the time to ask other users what they thought of their current technology.

Duke's (which is a user of Maitre'D by Posera) asked their technology vendor to supply them with several end-user references so that the team in the head office could speak to the executives, managers and servers who were using the technology day-in and day-out. These are the people who will tell you straightforwardly the benefits and drawbacks of your potential system. Checking references is probably the easiest part of the purchase process, but sadly it is the one step that is often overlooked. Take the extra time to listen to the opinions of current users before investing in a system.

John Moscrip is COO and owner of Duke's Chowder House. Moscrip has held various positions within the Duke's franchise throughout his career; he became managing partner approximately three years ago. Duke's Chowder House has always operated with a strong commitment to sustainability, both for their community and the environment. They use only sustainably managed wild seafood from Alaska. Duke's also actively promotes and donates to more than 800 charities in and around Seattle each year.

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